Delhi High Court: In a case wherein the wife, appellant had challenged the Order dated 03-09-2019 of the Principal Judge, Family Court (‘Family Court’), dismissing her application for maintenance under Section 24 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (‘HMA’), the Division Bench of Suresh Kumar Kait and Neena Bansal Krishna*, JJ., held that in the present case it was not only that the wife was highly qualified and had an earning capacity, but in fact she had been earning, though had not been inclined to truthfully disclose her income. The Court thus opined that such a person could not be held entitled to maintenance, therefore, dismissed the appeal as it found no merit in it.
The parties in the present case got married on 21-04-2014, but on account of incompatibility and differences, they were not able to continue in their matrimonial relationship leading to filing of a Divorce Petition under Section 13 (1)(ia) of the HMA by the husband, respondent. The wife was working till then, but after the filing of the Divorce Petition, she resigned from her job on 22-05-2015. Thereafter, the matter was amicably settled, and the Divorce Petition was withdrawn. However, a police complaint was filed by the wife in 2016 reflecting that the parties were unable to settle in their matrimonial relationship.
The Family Court considered the matter afresh and observed the qualifications of the wife and that she had been working even after the marriage, declined to grant her any pendent lite maintenance. Being aggrieved by the same, the present appeal had been preferred by the wife who had sought interim maintenance of Rs.35,000 per month in addition to litigation expenses of Rs. 55,000.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court noted that the wife was M. Phil at the time of her marriage and was pursuing a Ph.D. which she had completed and now had the qualification of Ph.D. (Management) with professional qualification in Computers. While on the other hand, the husband was a simple graduate. The Court also noted that the wife was working at a Diamond Jewellery Showroom at the time of her marriage and was getting Rs. 12,000 per month. Moreover, she left her job since she was unable to attend her office since 22-05-2015. Thus, the Court opined that not only was the wife highly qualified but had been working even at the time of her marriage.
The Court opined that the Family Court had rightly observed that the wife had initially failed to disclose that she was working even if not regularly or for charity as claimed by her. The Court noted that the Family Court observed that it was difficult to accept that a person who was so highly qualified would not be working and it was even more difficult to accept that she would be working for charity.
The Court opined that “there was no doubt that merely because a person was qualified, she must be compelled to work, but here was a case where in addition to being qualified, the wife had been working. There was no doubt that there was a difference between ‘capacity’ and ‘actual earning’, but here it was not a case where wife had only the capacity but the document on record clearly pointed out that she had also been working”.
The Court relied on Mamta Jaiswal v. Rajesh Jaiswal, 2000 SCC OnLine MP 580, wherein it was observed that “Section 24 of the HMA had been enacted for the purpose of providing monetary assistance to either spouse who was incapable of supporting himself or herself in spite of sincere efforts. However, the law did not expect persons engaged in the legal battles to remain idle solely with the objective of squeezing out money from the opposite party. Section 24 of the HMA was not meant to create an Army of idle people waiting for a dole to be awarded by the other spouse”.
The Court relied on Rupali Gupta v. Rajat Gupta, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 5009, wherein the Division Bench of this Court deprecated the claim of maintenance under Section 24 of HMA by a well-qualified spouse having earning capacity. Thus, the Court held that in the present case it was not only that the wife was highly qualified and had an earning capacity, but in fact she had been earning, though had not been inclined to truthfully disclose her income. The Court thus opined that such a person could not be held entitled to maintenance, therefore, dismissed the appeal as it found no merit in it.
[ABC v. XYZ, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5624, decided on 12-09-2023]
*Judgment authored by: Justice Neena Bansal Krishna
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Appellant: Om Prakash Gulabani, Advocate with appellant in person
For the Respondent: Respondent in person